Top Returning Big Ten Punters For 2017

    Who will be the best Big Ten punter in 2017 now that Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston and Michigan’s Kenny Allen are pursuing careers in the NFL?

    March 17, 2017

    Who will be the best Big Ten punter in 2017 now that Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston and Michigan’s Kenny Allen are pursuing careers in the NFL?


    The Big Ten housed one of college football’s most accomplished punters a season ago, Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston. But he’s now used up his eligibility, as has Michigan veteran Kenny Allen. The Buckeyes and the Wolverines have an important special teams hole, which could negatively impact the defense if not properly filled this offseason. Such is not the problem for the defending conference champs, Penn State, which will be led by arguably the most promising young leg in the league.

    Top Returning Big Ten Punters

    3. Ryan Santoso, Minnesota

    Santoso was a career-changer of sorts in 2016, shifting from placekicker to punter to succeed all-leaguer Peter Mortell for the Gophers. Santoso is built like a strongside end at 6-6 and 250 pounds, yet he still punts with finesse when it’s warranted. While he only averaged 40.9 yards per attempt a year ago, his ability to float the ball and accurately place it out of bounds contributed to Minnesota ranking third in the league in punt coverage.

    2. Joe Schopper, Purdue

    Schopper has only averaged a little over 40 yards a punt in each of the last two seasons, but don’t be deceived by his modest distance. His value to the Boilermakers stems from his ability to establish field position and neutralize the other guy’s return game. Almost half of Schopper’s attempts ended up inside the 20-yard line, a central reason Purdue ranked No. 9 nationally in punt return D. He’s eyeing more honors as a junior after earning honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2016.

    1. Blake Gillikin, Penn State

    Gillikin’s career in Happy Valley is off to an auspicious debut. He was voted honorable mention All-Big Ten in his first year out of Westminster (Ga.) High School, teaming with PK Tyler Davis to give the Lions a solid special teams tandem. Gillikin ranked third in the league with an average of 42.8 yards an attempt, fulfilling the expectations of being one of the most coveted specialists from the class of 2016. He also adapted quickly to life in a Penn State classroom, earning a 4.0 GPA in his first semester on campus.

    MORE: Top Returning Punters In College Football

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